Greeks say belt tightening in right direction- poll

ATHENS, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Most Greeks think austerity measures taken by the socialist government to get the country out of its fiscal crisis go in the right direction, a poll published at the weekend showed.

Pressured by financial markets and European Union partners, Greece has frozen public sector wages and cut salary allowances by 10 percent this year to lower its wage bill as it scrambles to cut its budget deficit by 4.0 percentage points of GDP. A poll by Marc for Sunday’s Ethnos newspaper showed that 57.6 percent consider the belt-tightening goes in the right direction and 74.2 percent think the government was too slow to react.

The poll also showed that 75.8 percent of Greeks think there should be no strike action until the crisis has passed.

Greece’s public and private sector unions will stage a one-day strike on Wednesday to protest against the austerity package, testing the government’s resolve as additional measures including a VAT hike may be in store.

Customs officials protesting over the pay freeze returned to work on Monday after a court declared their strike illegal.

The walkout, which began to crumble last Friday when some regions voted to halt the action, had led to petrol shortages at Athens filling stations.

The poll showed that a 51.3 percent majority think the government measures under EU supervision will lead the country out of the fiscal crisis with 43 percent saying they will not.

Prime Minister George Papandreou has said the government will do whatever is necessary to ensure there is no slippage from the EU-endorsed fiscal plan which targets to shrink the budget hole to 8.7 percent of GDP this year.

According to the poll, 64.1 percent believes the austerity measures are not spread fairly with only 28.8 percent saying the government is making efforts to share the burden equitably.